DES MOINES — Today, Cory Booker says, is an “incredible, incredible day.”
He is bounding toward the veggie burger tent at the Iowa Steak Fry on Saturday afternoon, a trail of supporters weaving through thick crowds behind him, trying to keep up. He is telling anyone who asks that he’s doing “great.” “Really great,” he says. He vaults over a stack of watercoolers into the back of the tent and gets into position behind the grill, slapping on blue latex gloves. He serves a Gardein patty to another candidate, his Senate colleague Michael Bennet, and grins. “HELLO, VEGANS!” Booker shouts to no one in particular, and everybody laughs.
You wouldn’t know it, but today is also the day that might bring his presidential campaign to an early, unexpected end. Around 9 a.m., a few hours before he arrived for his speech at the Iowa Steak Fry, a ritual of presidential politics in the state that kicks off the nominating process, Booker’s campaign made a stark announcement: He needed to bring in $1.7 million in 10 days, his campaign manager Addisu Demissie said, or else he would have to drop out.